BACKGROUND INFO ON THE AUTHOR Born Thomas Lanier Williams in 1911 in Mississippi A near fatal childhood illness, coupled with a protective mother, kept him from the company of other children. His weak physical condition, combined with the influence of his delicate mother, earned him the ridicule of both other children and his highly masculine father, who nicknamed Williams, “Miss Nancy”.
A MASTER IN THE MAKING Williams turned to writing as an escape from the cruel world around him. In 1938 after receiving a degree from the University of Iowa, Williams moved to New Orleans, where he had his first homosexual experience. (His first and last affair with a woman had been at Iowa). This was the beginning of a life of sexual promiscuity, which also defines many of his characters (including Blanche).
Williams changed his name to Tennessee. By 1940, Williams’s sexual and social identity had been established. Williams—highly successful at this point in his life—floods his work with sex, violence, and personal destruction. His greatest characters are outcasts—usually because their sexual desires put them at odds with conventional society.
“Desire” is a central word in Williams’s work, but not necessarily meaning lust; it is the struggle to attain, through sex, some psychological and spiritual state that is always unattainable. Blanche will say, “Death […] the opposite is desire.”
Williams became increasingly dependent on prescription drugs and alcohol, especially after the death of his long time partner, Frank Merlo. Williams died in 1963 in a NYC hotel room after choking on the top of a plastic pill bottle.
IMPORTANT CHARACTERS IN STREETCAR Blanche DuBois Stella- Blanche’s younger sister Stanley- Stella husband, a Polish immigrant Mitch- friend of Stanley’s and love interest of Blanche
Theme o Themes exist in fictional stories. o A theme is the message or lesson that an author is conveying through the story. o Theme is the central or main idea of a literary work. What am I trying to teach you?
Themes are often what make a story memorable. Long after reading a story, we may forget the characters’ names or the plot, but we will always remember what we learned from reading the story. That lesson is what we call the theme in literature. Living a simple life leads to greater personal freedom. Themes are built on the understanding that life experiences are common to all of us. Readers build connections to stories through universal themes. Appearances can be deceiving. True friends are hard to find.
Theme vs. Topic Be careful that you do not confuse the theme with the general topic of a passage. The topic can usually be identified with one or two words. Eastern Europe, pretzels, bike riding, Abraham Lincoln The theme is usually expressed in a sentence that reveals the story’s message. Always be satisfied with what you have. There is no substitute for hard work.
Revealing Theme Themes can be revealed through a character’s actions. Themes can be revealed through conflict in the story. Do not disturb what is meant to be peaceful. Problem: Two friends find a wallet. One friend wants to return it while the other wants to keep it. Solution: They return the wallet and share a small reward. Theme: Making the right decisions can lead to rewards.
The Literary 3x3 is a simple and ultra brief writing activity to prompt students to think outside the plot The task: students summarize the novel/story they have read without using specific names or events The catch: they must create this summary using only 3 lines of 3 words each.
LITERARY 3X3 EXAMPLES The fun comes out in the discussion: consider these examples of “3x3”s for these popular Disney movies – can you guess what they are? A. B. C.
LITERARY 3X3 The 3x3 exercise forces students to think outside the “main character does this…then this…the end” type of formula. Let it be a game – students should try to create the most insightful 3x3s Use the words generated to prompt further writing
LITERARY 3X3 Try it! Pick a familiar book or movie (let us know which!) and write your own 3x3 Let’s share! Remember this exercise, we will be making 3x3s with many novels, short stories, etc. The RULES are on the next slide…
RULES 3x3 will use:3x3 may use:3x3 will not use: Complete sentences Effective word order Strong words, especially verbs and adjectives Abstract nouns Contractions using “is” Proper nouns/names Repeated words “to be” verbs Pronouns Cliches a, an, the
This process of expressing complex ideas with very specific language helps students examine literature in real depth, as well as explore subtle nuances of specific diction. Students argue persuasively for one word over another as they try to get to the very essence of a story, exploring the text in depth for evidence to support their claims.